Local actor Ryan Beil used to play the character of Ryan the trainee in A&W commercials, as a sort of bumbling sidekick to the guy who plays the manager, and who you still see in their commercials asking people what they think of their hormone-free burgers. It’s weird to admit it but these commercials for a fast food chain were actually funny, especially if you’d been exposed to Ryan’s comedy elsewhere. He’s been a fixture in the semi-underground comedy scene here for years, has won awards for his on-stage performaces, and his A&W character grew on us. Then he disappeared.
A few days ago Ryan decided to ask for his old job back, sparking the hashtag #wherehasryanbeen and encouraging people to reach out to A&W on Twitter and let the company know that they were wondering exactly that. I joined in on the fun and piped this meme into the conversation (it’s a play on an old Wendy’s commercial that you’ll only get if you’re over 30):
— Bob Kronbauer (@BobKronbauer) March 6, 2015
Hundreds of people petitioned using the hashtag and A&W finally responded with this tweet:
— A&W Canada (@AWCanada) March 6, 2015
Then they scrambled to film this funny web clip:
— A&W Canada (@AWCanada) March 10, 2015
Hyper-aware of viral campaigns, I reached out to Ryan and asked if all of this was planned in cahoots with the fast food chain. He told me that it was all his doing, and that after it went viral the company “bowed to the pressure” and that they might collaborate again in the future. A&W gets it. I’m gonna go get a burger now.